Though the source novel is long and much more complex, most adaptations, focus on the character of Anna Karenina herself. Anna is married to the much older Count Karenin. She is content in her marriage until she meets the dashing bachelor and ladies man Count Vronsky. He is immediately smitten, but for the sake of her young son and her standing in society, Anna resists his overtures.
However, Vronsky’s attentions in the face of her husband’s neglect encourage Anna to believe that she is in love with Vronsky. Defying convention, the two run away together. Though they are very much in love, their romance comes at great cost to Anna. Not only is she isolated from her beloved son, but she is also shunned by most of society. The disparity in society’s reactions reveals their hypocrisy. Doors are closed to her but Vronsky meets less judgment and resistance. Anna becomes more and more desperate to hold on to Vronsky. Her doubt and jealousy drives a wedge in their relationship.
Unlike other adaptations, this version also includes the parallel story line of Konstantin Levin and Anna’s family friend Princess Kitty. Levin is in love with Kitty, but she has eyes for Vronsky and refuses his marriage proposal. Heartbroken he returns to his country estate and Kitty travels abroad. Kitty eventually matures and accepts Levin’s second proposal. But her prior rejection creates a wall between them in their marriage. Kitty learns to love her new husband, but he is wary of being too vulnerable with her.
These two couples navigate the complexities of their relationships and provide a opposing portraits of passion and love.
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